A ONE-YEAR-OLD Cappamore girl has inspired Irish celebrities to pick up their pens and doodle for Spina Bifida.
Noreen Keogh, grandmother of little Sophie, came up with the idea and has put their drawings into a book for charity.
Limerick’s Jerry Flannery, Joe Quaid, David Wallace and Rosemary Ryan feature in Doodles for Spina Bifida.
They are joined by the likes of broadcasters Gay Byrne, Joe Duffy, Ray D’Arcy, Eamon Dunphy; Keith Barry, hypnotist and the hurling managers of Waterford and Kilkenny, Michael Ryan and Brian Cody.
Actress Keira Knightley and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey even responded to the Cappamore grandmother.
Sophie was born to Emma Keogh and Dermot O’Neill in 2011. At their second scan they were told that their daughter had Spina Bifida.
“It is a common condition affecting one in every thousand children in Ireland. Ireland has one of the highest incidences of Spina Bifida births in the world and causes incomplete development of the spinal cord. Translated, it literally means ‘split spine’,” said Noreen.
Before Sophie was even born she was a member of the Mid-West Spina Bifida Association in Eastway Business Park.
“They have been a huge support. Once she was diagnosed in the womb we went to them to find out more and what to expect.
“It is easier talking to parents who have children with Spina Bifida. Every single child is different,” said Noreen.
On her return from a charity walk for Cystic Fibrosis Noreen decided to raise some money for Spina Bifida.
“I was thinking about calendars but they have been done.
“Then maybe a cookbook but they have been done too so I decided on doodles by Irish media, sport and entertainment personalities,” said Noreen, who is married to Roger and has two other daughters, Danielle and Sarah.
She started getting in touch with well known faces and kept going until she had enough for the book.
“The most successful way was through contacts of contacts. As an example Rosemary Ryan, who ran in the Olympics, is a cousin of Roger. She got Ray D’Arcy, as they organised a race in Limerick together,” said Noreen.
She included a stamped address envelope and waited for them to come in the door of their home.
Noreen found it hard to pick one of the celebrities for the front cover so asked Cappamore artist, Mark Bourke, to do the illustrations.
A beautiful portrait of Sophie Keogh by another local, Dervla Mulchay, adorns the inside cover. Noreen wished to thank everyone who contributed to their time to Doodle for Spina Bifida.
The book is on sale in shops in Cappamore and Murroe, Mid-West centre in Eastway Business Park and is available from http://doodleforspinabifida.wix.com/doodles costing €10.
All proceeds go directly to Spina Bifida to support services including physiotherapy orthotics, counselling, special equipment and social development.